There’s a New Rule on Rabbit Tattoos
Let’s start with history:
Back in the old days, nearly everybody used clamp tattooers, right? You pierce the ear, spread ink in the holes, coat it with petroleum jelly and hope you can still see it in two weeks…remember? In those days, tattoo combinations were fairly limited. My clamp came with just ten keys: 0-9. So my bunnies got crazy tattoos such as 589273 and 41835. (I might have done it just to be a little bit annoying.)
Even if you spent the extra money and bought an A-Z set, you still only had one key of each letter and number. So tattoos such as ABBY, BOOTS, and R2D2 were out of the question.
Another disadvantage was that you were limited to a certain number of characters. My clamp tongs had room for six characters, but my 4-H leader’s could only take four.
But those, as I said, were the old days. Like, when we all had dial-up. Like, before Lionheads got insanely popular. Those days even dated back to the time when 80% of rabbit judges were men.
Today, in this post-post-post-modern era, it’s different. Today bunnies get tattoos such as these:
Tattoos that were perfectly legitimate in the days of clamps turned from this:
So what brought the change?
Here’s what: someone had an idea. And ideas change the world.
Someone decided to take an electric toothbrush, replace the bristles with a cluster of needles, and thus produce a hand-held, battery-operated tattoo pen for rabbit breeders. Brilliant, isn’t it?
I don’t know exactly when they first came on the market, but as soon as they started to catch on, these battery-operated tattooers spread among rabbit breeders as fast as Holland Lops did in the 1980’s. Now they are much more common than the old clamps. Even I, bunny budgeter extraordinaire, bought one of these new tattoo pens. (Well actually, I traded the owner of BunnyRabbit.com some of my books for it…)
Pro’s and Con’s of Hand-held Rabbit Tattoo Pens
Breeders love them, because they don’t seem to hurt the rabbit as much, they take less nerve to use, they produce letters that are solid and small, and they work great for touch-ups. And, of course, they offer a lot more flexibility. We rabbit breeders are creative people. We think it’s fantastic that we can now tattoo our rabbits with:
But many judges and show secretaries are not as thrilled. Some hand tattoos come out amazing, yes! Some are much easier to read than clamps, yes! But some come out looking like my messy handwriting. Some are so small that judges have trouble reading them. And the biggest problem with the new tattoos is the very flexibility that we breeders love. Remember, we live in the post-post-post-modern age…or something like that. Thus, ARBA registrars and show secretaries use computerized systems to handle their records, and it makes their jobs MUCH easier. But there’s a catch: how do you enter a tattoo like this into a computer?
And if you were a judge, would you WANT to read a tattoo like that in front of a whole showroom?
Enter a Revised ARBA Show Rule
So the ARBA did something about it. Just in the last month, the ARBA board approved a change to show rule 26. According to my district director, the board approved the change unanimously. And, having been a show secretary myself, I support their decision. It now reads:
SECTION 26. All animals must be permanently and legibly earmarked in the left ear. The tattoo is to only contain numerals 0-9 and/or letters A-Z. The tattoo is to contain no language of a profane or sexual nature.
We can do that, right?
By the way, there is still no limit to the number of characters in a rabbit’s tattoo. However, if you want to be friendly to rabbit software programs, keep it to six or less.
And thus, ARBA has brought us into the post-post-post-post-modern age of rabbit tattoos. That’s like saying we’re living in the future, isn’t it?